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CPC Novorossiisk crude oil exports hit record 1.52 mil b/d in Dec

London — Loadings of CPC blend crude oil from the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossiisk hit a record 1.52 million b/d in December, propelled by Kazakhstan's burgeoning Kashagan field, data from the terminal and pipeline operator showed Friday.

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The Caspian Pipeline Consortium said loadings hit a calendar year record of 61.08 million mt in 2018, equivalent to an average 1.32 million b/d.

"Loading was at the most accelerated tempo in December: Over 5,954,994 mt (47,142,565 barrels) were loaded into the tanks of oil carrier ships during that period," the consortium said.

CPC is Kazakhstan's main crude export route to international markets, and the pipeline across southern Russia to Novorossiisk has undergone major expansion.

The consortium said 55 tankers had departed the terminal in December, bringing the full-year total to 558. Overall in 2018, 89% of the CPC crude loaded was of Kazakh origin, the remainder being from Russia.

Kazakhstan's Tengiz field, operated by a Chevron-led consortium, remained the single biggest contributor last year, at 28.7 million mt, with Kashagan overtaking what was the second biggest source, Karachaganak.

Kashagan, which came on stream in 2016 after an abortive earlier start-up, contributed 13.2 million mt last year, and Karachaganak 10.3 million mt.

Kashagan was expected to reach production levels of 370,000 b/d in the second half of this year, Kazakh energy minister Kanat Bozumbayev said in comments to the Interfax news agency posted on the ministerial website Friday.

Average January loadings are set to be 1.36 million b/d, according to a copy of the loading schedule. International exports are also dependent on conditions in the Bosporus, which has been subject to repeated hold-ups this month.

--Nick Coleman,

--Edited by Daniel Lalor,